China Air Pollution

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, China has abundant tourism resources, the vast majority of which are of great renown. However, the number of tourists visiting China declined from 2013, mostly due to its increasingly serious air pollution. Many cities have been adversely affected by hazy weather since the beginning of 2013. This is especially true of central and eastern China’s cities such as Tangshan, Jinan, Zhengzhou, and Xi'an for example.

It is known to all that the rapid development of China’s economy in the past 30 years resulted in environmental degradation. Nevertheless, the hazy weather records of China in 2013 attracted global attention. It is a pity that as a consequence some foreign residents choose to give up their jobs and life in China.

China Air Pollution Map

As what can be seen from the above map, central China, eastern and south China are the most effected districts, especially the Yangtze River Delta including Shanghai. Not without consequence, this air pollution map is almost the same as the map of China’s population distribution.  The air quality is good in most part of northern and northwest China. Furthermore, the hazy weather has obvious seasonal characteristic, which usually occurs in the autumn and winter.


Air Quality Index (AQI)

As the new standard of measurement for air quality, AQI is a quantitative description of the air quality index. The major pollutants involved in the analysis including fine particulate matter (PM2.5), inhalable particles (PM10), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO). Here PM2.5 and PM10 are measured in micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3).

According to “Technical Regulation on Ambient Air Quality Index (on trial)”, AQI is divided into six levels in total, with Level one being the best and Level six being the worst.


AQI and Health Implications

AQI Air Quality Health Implications
0–50 Excellent No air pollution.
51–100 Good Few hypersensitive individuals should reduce the time for outdoor activities.
101–150 Lightly Polluted Slight irritations may occur, children, and those who with breathing or heart problems should reduce outdoor exercise.
151–200 Moderately Polluted Irritations may occur, and it may have an impact on healthy people’s heart and / or respiratory system, so all people should reduce the time for outdoor exercise.
201–300 Heavily Polluted Healthy people will be noticeably affected. People with breathing or heart problems will lack exercise tolerance. Those patients, children and elders should remain indoors.
300+ Severely Polluted Even healthy people will lack endurance during activities. There may be strong irritations and symptoms. So all people should avoid outdoor activities.

Air Quality Rankings of Chinese Major Tourist Cities in 2018

Rank City Province belongs to AQI Air Quality Level PM2.5 PM10
1 Urumqi Xinjiang 30 Excellent 11 21
2 Changchun Jilin 50 Excellent 29 51
3 Dalian Liaoning 53 Good 26 56
4 Lhasa Tibet 52 Good 20 58
5 Sanya Hainan 55 Good 20 60
6 Shenyang Liaoning 56 Good 33 63
7 Kunming Yunnan 57 Good 36 59
8 Hangzhou Zhejiang 59 Good 27 65
9 Haikou Hainan 59 Good 30 68
10 Qingdao Shandong 68 Good 28 85
11 Changsha  Hunan 69 Good 33 88
12 Chongqing Chongqing 69 Good 26 87
13 Shenzhen Guangdong 70 Good 37 91
14 Suzhou Jiangsu 72 Good 33 102
15 Fuzhou Fujian 72 Good 31 94
16 Wuhan Hubei 74 Good 32 104
17 Nanjing Jiangsu 77 Good 23 104
18 Shanghai Shanghai 77 Good 40 103
19 Xiamen Fujian 77 Good 30 90
20 Nanning Guangxi 79 Good 46 108
21 Hefei Anhui 84 Good 36 118
22 Datong Shanxi 87 Good 51 124
23 Guilin Guangxi 87 Good 56 122
24 Guiyang Guizhou 91 Good 48 132
25 Harbin Heilongjiang 94 Good 63 103
26 Xining Qinghai 95 Good 55 118
27 Yangzhou Jiangsu 96 Good 36 142
28 Guangzhou Guangdong 99 Good 71 131
29 Hohhot Inner Mongolia 100 Good 53 150
30 Lanzhou Gansu 100 Good 43 135
31 Luoyang Henan 101 Lightly Polluted 67 144
32 Chengdu Sichuan 101 Lightly Polluted 62 143
33 Jinan Shandong 103 Lightly Polluted 43 151
34 Xi'an Shaanxi 106 Lightly Polluted 75 137
35 Beijing Beijing 109 Lightly Polluted 82 103
36 Zhengzhou Henan 111 Lightly Polluted 63 172
37 Tianjin Tianjin 118 Lightly Polluted 83 179
38 Baotou Inner Mongolia 124 Lightly Polluted 59 198
39 Shijiazhuang Hebei 129 Lightly Polluted 87 200
40 Taiyuan Shanxi 141 Lightly Polluted 88 214
41 Yinchuan Ningxia 203 Heavily Polluted 77 340

Note: AQI and Air Quality Level may vary day by day; the data here is just average value for reference only.
- Last modified on Nov. 04, 2018 -
Questions & Answers on Air Pollution
Asked by James from CHINA | Nov. 04, 2018 21:28Reply
These statistics don't look accurate
I'm researching where in China to go, I live in Hebei at the moment. I've been checking air qualuty with a number of environmental agencies and the above figures do seem representative. For example, putting Qingdao's air cleanliness above Xiamen is not close to true.

And the rating is not representative, either. It states over 100 as lightly polluted, presuming this is reference to the Air Quality Index (aqi), over 100 is heavily polluted. 50-100 is lightly.
Asked by Dawn Peng from SINGAPORE | Sep. 23, 2018 01:49Reply
My family will be traveling to Luoyang in late Nov/early Dec. is the air quality ok?
Answers (1)
Answered by Qiuerre from ROMANIA | Sep. 24, 2018 20:15

Generally, the air quality will not be very good in winter and it may be better in sunny days. They are suggested to prepare some anti-haze masks.
Asked by Adriann from USA | Mar. 29, 2018 13:13Reply
What is the average AQI in Nanjing in July?
I can't find details for July 2017. Should the average adult wear a mask? Thank you.
Answers (1)
Answered by Olivia from UNITED KINGDOM | Apr. 02, 2018 01:12

Well, you don't need to wear a mask. Based on the previous statistics, the air quality would be good during that period of time.
Asked by bob hancock from UNITED KINGDOM | Mar. 02, 2018 16:25Reply
Planning trip to Guangzhou in May. How about the air pollution?
Answers (1)
Answered by Caden from RUSSIA | Mar. 04, 2018 19:46

Hello, Bob, the previous statistics show that the air quality would be well in May. Thus you don't need to worry about this actually. Have a nice trip!
Asked by Katie from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 13, 2018 01:34Reply
I will be travelling to Shanghai for a week in May with my one year old, should he wear a mask?
Are there any day trip distance areas near Shanghai where the air will be cleaner? Thank you!
Answers (1)
Answered by Alaia from FINLAND | Jan. 14, 2018 20:57

Oh, according to the previous statistics, the air quality of Shanghai maybe good in May. Thus you don't need to wear a mask. :)
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